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Stone and Masonry - Bricks

wall mortar window joint

Bricks are manmade argillaceous rock. Brick and cement or cinder block masonry are not quite as artistic as stone masonry, but are usually quicker and cheaper. Like stone masonry, a footing is laid, and tiers of block or brick are placed upon the footing. The way a brick is positioned in a wall is given a name. The long part of the brick is termed the stretcher, the short end, the header, and the flat face of the brick is the bed. A tier or layer of brick can be a stretcher course (if all faces showing are stretchers), a headed course (ends showing are heads), a sailor course (where bricks are upright, with beds showing) or soldier course (where bricks are upright, with stretchers showing). Bricks laid in stretcher position with headers abutting are termed rowlock stretchers, and with headers upright are termed rowlock headers. There are various patterns that are used in brick laying. Strictly, in bricklaying, pattern refers to changes in arrangement or varied brick texture or color used in the face. But the different methods of joining bricks with the mortar can also be termed patterns. There are five types of bonding. They are:

  • Running bond—Consists of all stretchers, but each tier is moved over one half brick.
  • Block or stack bond—Each tier is placed over the previous in exactly the same position.
  • American bond—A variation of running bond, with a full course of headers every fifth, sixth or seventh course.
  • English bond—Alternates block bond tiers with header tiers.
  • Flemish bond—Similar to English bond, but differs in that instead of alternating tiers, it alternates stretcher and header in the same tier.

Modern building codes require that masonry-bonded walls have no less that 4% headers in the wall surface. Headers bond the wall across its thickness. Metal ties are usually recommended for bonding an exterior wall. This allows for stretching and resistance to cracking.

The surface of the brick wall can vary, depending on how the joints are finished. There are about seven types of finished joints.

Concave is the most common. It keeps moisture out and the mortar is forced tightly between the brick and thus makes an excellent bond.

The V-joint is formed with a special jointer, a piece of wood or a trowel, and it stands out as a sharp line. V-joints direct water off.

The raked joint forms a deep recess, which does not keep water out, but produces a shading that accentuates the brick courses.

The weathered joint sheds the water better than any other. It is recessed at the top, and is level with the brick surface at the bottom of the joint.

The struck joint is the opposite of weathered—it is recessed at the bottom and slants towards the top.

The flush joint is the easiest of all to make. One simply uses the trowel to smooth the face. It is water resistant but not very strong since the mortar is not compacted.

The extruded joint, also called the "weeping" joint, is water resistant and is used mainly for garden walls or where a rustic appearance is desired. It is made by using an excess of mortar between tiers of brick. When a brick is put into place the excess mortar is then squeezed out, and left where it hangs over.

The type of stone, brick, or bonding to be used depends on the purpose and desire of the builder. But whatever type is chosen, stone and brick last the longest, besides being pleasant to the eye.

Melvin Tracy

KEY TERMS

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Arch

—Curved path or span across an opening, constructed of voussoirs (curved arch stones).

Bed

—A stratified layer of stone in sedimentary rock, laid down by nature. A bed is also the term used to describe the horizontal layer of mortar, cement, sand, etc. on which the blocks or stone are laid. It is the base for the first layer.

Bevel

—An instrument to determine that a layer of stone or brick does not change height over a distance. It also is the name for a splayed angle on a worked stone.

Block stone

—A large stone block, roughly squared at the quarry.

Bonder

—Any stone or brick which is so laid that it increases the strength of a wall, either in thickness or in length.

Brought to course

—Where random walling is brought up to a level line, such as at the top of a wall or the bottom of a window.

Buttress

—A strong stone pier built against a wall to give additional strength. (Flying buttresses extend quite far out from the wall.) A buttress must be bonded to the wall.

Chamfer

—A flat splayed edge between two flat plain surfaces.

Chisel

—A generic term for a certain type of cutting tool.

Cladding

—Nonload bearing thin stone slabs or bricks used for facing a building.

Cock's comb

—A thin shaped steel plate with a serrated edge. It is used for finishing moldings and other shapes.

Corbel

—A bracket of stone that projects from the face of a wall. It usually is used to give support to some feature above.

Course

—A continuous layer of stone or brick of uniform height in a wall.

Diamond saw

—A saw whose cutting edge has industrial diamonds inserted.

Dormer

—A window that projects vertically from a sloping roof.

Dowel

—A sort piece of metal (not iron) or slate fixed into a mortise or adjoining stones or tile to prevent movement.

Dressings

—A generic term used to wart, chimneys, etc. made of freestone, on the elevation of a building.

Drum

—A separate circular stone in a shaft or column.

Eave

—The part of a roof or other structure which oversails the wall face.

Entablature

—In classical architecture, the upper part of an order. It comprises architrave, frieze and cornice.

Fault

—A natural fissure in a bed or stratum of stone at a quarry. Usual faults are somewhat vertical.

Fillet

—A small member between moldings. It also is called a quirk.

Flagstone

—Stone that is naturally stratified in slabs about two to three inches thick, used mainly for paving, copings, etc.

Float

—A rectangular wooden hand trowel, used for smoothing surfaces.

Fluted stone

—Stone worked with regular concave grooves, as found in columns.

Gauge

—A tool used for marking parallel lines when setting out a piece of work.

Grain

—A word used at times to describe the natural visible bedding planes in stone.

Grout

—Mortar used for filling vertical joints (perpends).

Header

—A stone which has its longest dimension built into the thickness of the wall to improve bonding and strength.

Hip

—The inclined angle at which two sloping roofs meet. The converse of valley.

Hod

—A device used for carrying mortar or other materials when climbing. It is placed on the shoulder.

Hydrated lime

—Quicklime processed into an inert powdered lime ready for use.

Jamb

—Vertical side of an archway, doorway or window.

Keystone

—The central stone in an arch

Ledger

—A large flat stone covering an altar tomb or grave. Often forms part of a church floor.

Level

—A tool for telling if horizontal surfaces are true and level.

Lintel

—The block or stone that spans the top of an opening, such as a doorway or window. Sometimes called a head.

Molding

—A projecting or recessed part, used to give shadows to a wall, arch, or other surfaces.

Mortar board

—A board placed near the work. It holds the mortar, allowing the mason to pick it up with a trowel.

Mortise

—A recess in a block cut to receive a dowel or tenon.

Mould

—A shaped pattern used to set out the work. Called a template in carpentry.

Niche

—A recess in a wall, usually prepared to receive a carved figure.

Oriel window

—A window that projects from an upper story.

Pilaster

—A flat pier attached to a wall, with a base and a capital.

Plinth

—The projecting base of a wall or column, generally molded at the top.

Plumb rule

—A straightedge about four or six feet long with a spirit level recessed in it. It is used to ensure vertical with when building a wall. (Along with the level, it is one of a mason's most important tools.)

Pointing

—Filling of mortar joints in masonry.

Quarry

—Usually an opencast pit (but sometimes a mine) from which stone is extracted.

Rendering

—A coating, usually of cement and sand, that covers rough stone.

Sill

—Either the threshold stone under a doorway, if flush, that is not a step; or the stone across the base of a window opening.

Soffit

—The underside of an arch, vault, cornice, lintel, or the like.

Square

—A tool having a fixed right angle. It is used to set out work and keep angles truly square.

Straightedge

—An unmarked ruler of any length that can be used to draw lines through two given points.

Throat

—A name sometimes given to the small grove under a window sill or dripstone. Its purpose is to deflect water from the wall.

Transom

—A structural part dividing a window horizontally.

Vein

—A colored marking in limestone, marble, etc.

Weathered

—Stones that have been exteriorly exposed in a building for many years to the elements can be weathered, well or badly.

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